• Tue, Dec 31 - 2:30 pm ET

Paying A Babysitter $5 An Hour To Watch Two Kids Is Ridiculous

200223215-001Child care of any kind is getting ridiculously expensive these days, so I understand wanting to cut corners when you can. But I really cannot understand one blogger’s confession that she pays her babysitter $5 an hour to watch two children. And I really can’t understand her justification for it.

The blogger penned an article for The Huffington Post, outlining her “take it or leave it” policy. She’s found children who are willing to work for that amount of money, but felt she needed to explain herself after she encountered some “eye-rolling” for being “way below the curve of what people are paying in [her] neighborhood.” She writes:

My position is that it is not a terribly hard job: I don’t expect them to be the mom, I expect them to watch a movie with my kids and feed them a little pre-made dinner. Probably almost exactly what they would be doing at home for free. If I could afford to pay them more, I would expect them to do more, like clean my house, make the dinner and do the dishes. But I know my budget, so I tell them that I don’t expect much extra and pray that it will go smoothly for them. If I had a new baby, I would pay extra for the inevitable emotional drain and possible sore muscles from carrying the baby. If I had really intense or difficult kids, I would pay them more because they would have earned more (and just to make sure they are willing to come back).

When you leave your children with someone – they are the stand-in parent. Whether they are a 15-year-old or a trained professional, they are performing the same function; keeping your child safe, fed, happy and alive. This is not “exactly what they would be doing at home.”

She justifies her position by claiming the “going rate” is more than families can afford, so babysitters aren’t getting as much work as they used to. I agree that babysitting rates can be very, very expensive. We couldn’t find one for less than $20 an hour when we lived in New York, so we rarely used one. But when pitching a number to a child – why not at least attempt to pay minimum wage? There is a big difference between not being able to afford the “going rate” and intentionally underpaying because you can.

In my day, my siblings and I would do anything to earn a little extra money. We were desperate. Lemonade stands, selling fruit from our orchard door to door… That creative ability to solve my money problems has led me all over the work-world… Desperation begets creativity. Creatively solving problems gives kids confidence to do more. Confidence in doing more leads to success. Overpaying kids upends the whole cycle.

Seriously? It’s one thing to totally underpay a child who is willing to work for that amount – quite another to pretend like your doing said child a favor by underpaying her. I’ll just leave you with this; I was paid $5 and hour to watch one child in 1989. 

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • cesp

    In other words if you don’t like what your making then you should probably stop being lazy and get a real and meaningful job. I mean, being a mom is the hardest most important job in the world but if some teenager is watching my kid(s) they should consider themselves lucky that they are getting paid at all for such easy “work”. In fact they should be paying me for the pleasure and experience I am graciously offering them. Back in my day….

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      You win the sarcasm award of the night. I bow down to your wit!

  • candyvines

    I bet she can always justify being cheap.

    • SusannahJoy

      She’s probably the same person who swears she always tips well, unless she got bad service, which turns out to be every time, so she never has to tip.

    • candyvines

      She probably tells herself she’s doing them a favor too.

  • Cee

    My going rate is 10 dollars/hr on a small, non permanent job, such as one whole day or date night babysitting. Anything more permanent or filled with other jobs such as house chores, being asked to actively teach the children and so forth obviously drives the price higher.
    I know its hard for parents to afford a babysitter, but, I am not only using my free time to “watch moves and color all day” with a child, I am assuming full responsibility for the child. I mean, if a parent was concerned enough to get a babysitter, it isn’t because they were worried about who would microwave their mac n cheese to the perfect temperature. No you are concerned that your child is going to set themselves or the house on fire, who is making sure that doesn’t happen? The babysitter!

    I bet she is the type of parent that thinks motherhood is a 24 hour hardest job ever and should get paid more than a CEO for it or something.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I pay our babysitter $10 too. The word on the street here in TX tells me that is great! To us, having a babysitter is a literal necessity because we both work at home and never leave the house – so we budget it in.

    • Oywiththepoodlesalready

      I pay my ne $10 hr too and all she has do is listen out for the kid who is already asleep by the time she gets here. It’s gotta be THE easiest job but I’d pay twice that just to be able to go out and be an adult sometimes.

  • shel

    I read about this when B posted about it on STFU facebook, and of course the hundreds of comments that followed… While the attitude behind this lady’s post is somewhat irksome, I don’t know if she’s really that crazy. I suppose it has a lot to do with where you live, how old the kids are, what’s happening while you are babysitting- are they sleeping the whole time? That’s not worth $20 an hour…
    Minimum wage in a lot of places is $7.25, so after taxes etc. $5 an hour isn’t really that far off. When I was a teenager, I did a lot of babysitting, but I guess I never had an hourly rate, usually it was a flat amount at the end of the night. I just don’t get all of this outrage, mimimum wage hasn’t gone from $5 to $20 in the past 20 years, it’s gone up a whopping 3 bucks!
    Heck, as a resident in a hospital (as in a real doctor doing doctor things for 80 hours a week) I got paid about $10 an hour… but the babysitter has to be paid more than that?
    I think it’s fair to negotiate with your sitters, and yes, more qualifications and more difficult children/more children could rate some more pay, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world for someone to have decided on a rate they are willing to pay. If they can’t find a sitter to take the job, they’ll have to re-think their pay plan… but some kids are getting a bit out of hand in how much they are “owed”.

  • Fuzzy ‘n Broken Mirror

    Yea, the whole I’m acting like a douchebag and now I’m going national with it! shit is stupid

    • Cee

      You just defined Thought Catalog and XO Jane

    • Zettai

      Please tell the rest of the country this, too!

  • Roberta

    I have noticed, as a babysitter and general kid-watcher, that these types of parents generally don’t understand how tough watching their offspring is. Especially when they think that you can just watch a movie with the siblings that have been threatening to kill each other for hours, reject every suggestion, only ask when mom is coming home, etc. 20 bucks is too much, but at least recognize that it is going to take more than couch change to get me to referee your kids.

    • Lucy

      I babysat often when I was a teenager and there were times the movie plan didn’t work out due to technical difficulties. One notable time included a family of 5 kids, including a toddler that wouldn’t stop crying. Check that everything’s set up and working BEFORE leaving! Also, even ifa the plan includes tv and bed, that’s not always the reality. I’ve definitely had times when the sleeping child woke up And wouldn’t sleep, or woke up after wetting the bed. That is definitely not what 13 year old me “would have been doing at home anyway.”

    • Grace

      When I was 14 I babysat a family who had 3 girls all under the ages of 8. The youngest woke up in the middle of the night, and I found her on the stairs, crying, and… peeing. On the carpet stairs. I changed her pajamas and put her back to bed and tried my best to clean it up, but what 14 year old knows how to clean pee out of carpet?
      I hate it when parents think that babysitting their kids is a walk in the park, because it rarely ever is.

    • Andrea

      I pay 20 bucks an hour and my babysitter doesn’t do a whole lot. My children are under penalty of DEATH should they give the babysitter ANY amount of crap. By the time she comes, they have been bathed and the pizza has been ordered. All she has to do is watch the (pre-selected) movie, eat the (pre-ordered) pizza and out them to bed (and the pre-determined hour) and then she can watch porn on her laptop the rest of the night.
      The upside to this is that my babysitter LOVES me and she will be available pretty much anytime I ask, unless is very last minute.
      We don’t go out much because of this (well we didn’t use to, my kids are older now and can stay by themselves) but it was worth it to know my babysitter was happy with us and my children were taken care of.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      You sound like the BEST parents to sit for ever. No snark intended, I mean it. You had me at “…and then she can watch porn on her laptop the rest of the night.”

      Where were you when I was a hard working high school student? LOL

    • Andrea

      LOL. Don’t think me altruistic. Competition for sitters around here is FIERCE (demand far outpaces the supply because teens are brats around here) so I just do what I gotta do!

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Still, you don’t sound bitter or annoyed about paying it, and you sound genuinely appreciative of your regular sitter. I know how hard it is to find someone you really trust who will be reliable, but I know so many parents who are totally appreciative of good sitter. My regular sitter, my good friend’s sister, when off to college this year. She was THE best and I miss the heck out of her. She used to tell me such horror stories! You’re more giving than you think, even if it’s less about cash and more about attitude.

    • Andrea

      Ha, how you flatter me! I think the reason I do it is two fold: (1) you are trusting this person with the most precious things in your life and (2) I am not much of a kid person (most days I can barely stand my own) so it would take a lot for me to watch other people’s and I forget most people aren’t like that!
      But PS don’t tell my husband, he always thought we totally overpaid our sitter!

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      “I am not much of a kid person (most days I can barely stand my own)”

      This confirms it, you are my spirit animal. I Love my kids with the passion of a 1000 suns, and I love my friends kids are made of awesome. I occasionally meet other kids who are great, but beyond that, I am lost, and some days, my kids irk me to no end. Also, I am a helicopter mom working endlessly towards free-rangeness. I always worry.

      So, the money paid to a sitter whom I love who can care for them in a way that doesn’t leave me paranoid seems priceless.

    • Cee

      Jeebus! For 10/hour, I usually cook and provide mixed entertainment (boardgames, movies, a craft or project). For 20 I will iron your clothes or improve your child’s test scores!

    • Ddaisy

      The only time I EVER let the kids watch TV was if I had to be there before 8am, because even I wasn’t fully awake yet, so they could watch ONE episode of Recess. I would’ve felt like the world’s laziest baby-sitter if I ever let them watch a movie–Kristy Thomas stamped that out of me well before I even hit baby-sitting age!
      The parents never provided pre-made or pre-ordered food either; luckily the kids loved eating KD for lunch three times a week, because that was all I knew how to make. And I got paid $3 an hour. I totally got ripped off, but I was desperate for a job. There were just no parents looking for baby-sitters. I’m glad your baby-sitter appreciates you–she darn well better!

    • Natasha B

      Babysitters club unite!!!!

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I totally agree with your entire comment. One thing though. “20 bucks is too much.” Usually $20 is too much, but I think that depends on where you live and of course, the amount of kids. I live in NYC too, and $20 is cheap in some neighborhoods. I live in an outer neighborhood of Queens, so I can find sitters for $10, but they’re always little sisters or cousins of high school friends, not strangers. When I lived in the midwest, however, $20 would have been insane, even for a nanny.

  • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

    Gosh, I got more than $5/hr for two kids back in 1992. Maybe $5 for one kid, but I think I undercharged because I didn’t want to ask too much. Usually when I gave a rate, the mom said it was too low and gave me a few bucks an hour extra. (I read a lot of old books about teens in the 50s and thought 50 cent rates were normal.) I think I usually got at least $5/hr/kid from 92-96, and I have no special skills and didn’t do anything besides hanging out with the kids and being old enough to call 911 or run to a neighbor’s in an emergency. (No emergencies ever happened, but that’s what I would have done.)

  • Andrea

    I’m calling SUCH bullshit on the whole “babysitters don’t work as much as they used to”. Around here sitters are booked weeks in advance and NO ONE (not even close friends) will share a babysitter number for fear that they will steal her from you.

    • Ddaisy

      Where do you live? I need to move there. When I was a teenager, I LOVED baby-sitting. I took my responsibilites super-seriously, always played lots of games with the kids, and barely charged anything, but I only had one family that I ever regularly baby-sat for. I so desperately wanted to be hired, and no one was looking!

  • keelhaulrose

    I wonder if she freaks out if she comes home and the house is a mess. For the chump change she’s paying I’m giving her exactly what she expects, watch a movie, feed a little dinner, make sure they’re breathing when she returns. Clean your own house, lady.
    I got $8 an hour when I was a teenaged babysitter. I’m less than a month from 30, so that’s over a decade ago. And I was a ‘cheap’ sitter because I didn’t have a car. I would have been embarrassed to have the parents come home to dirty dishes and/or a messy house. I changed diapers and clothes and did laundry when necessary because I didn’t want them to come home to poop-crusted jammies. I may have been cheap, but I was good, and my rate went up when I became mobile and my range got wider.

  • Paul White

    5 is kind of skimpy but I don’t know what you’re really supposed to pay. If I hire a kid to watch the house while Sam’s asleep so my wife and I can actually go out after 9pm, and they sit down and drink our soda and eat our popcorn and watch a movie, should I really pay them 25 dollars for 2-3 hours work? I’d be hard pressed to think so.

    • keelhaulrose

      I think what you pay is dependent on the level of care you expect to get, and the level of person you’re willing to leave your child with. If you’re comfortable leaving your child with a young teenager you’re going to pay less than a college kid, or even less than a professional who is picking up sitting jobs for extra cash. In your situation you’d need an older teen or college kid/adult (depending on curfew), but you don’t need a high level of experience, so you’re still going to be on the lower end. I don’t know exactly where you live, cities/suburbs cost more than rural, though if it takes a bit of travel for your babysitter to come to you that has to be factored in as well (can’t have them working for gas money). If all you want them to do is watch a movie you’re going to pay less than if you want them actively engaging your child.
      $5 is ridiculously cheap in this day and age, and I suspect this mom is going to find it harder and harder to find someone to watch her kids. Yes, it’s “watch a movie and pre-made dinner”, but you’re not hiring someone for the ideal evening, you’re hiring them for the “all hell breaks loose” situation. A 13 year old willing to work for $5 an hour isn’t going to handle a crisis the same way a professional will. A 13 year old will probably handle a blowout diaper differently, too.
      The old adage holds true. You get what you pay for. If you’re actively looking, I’d poke around sites like care dot com to see what people are asking in your area, and know you could probably get a teenager for about 2-5 dollars an hour less.

  • pineapplegrasss

    I barely make $20/ hr. I think $5/hr for a teenager is probably fair in many places.
    Different situations call for different amounts. A babysitter on New Years is more than one would be for a reg Sat night.

  • Alicia Kiner

    Am I the only one that doesn’t pay for babysitting?? My best friend and I just do trade offs. I baby sit her kid so she and her hubby can go out, she watches mine. The only time money changes hands is if there is some sort of activity involving the kids that requires money. Plus, someone we know and trust is watching our children, and if there’s an emergency, we are perfectly capable of dealing with it.

    • keelhaulrose

      I live with my parents, so they do my babysitting for free, or the cost of chores around the house they don’t want to do.
      We’re going to a no-kids wedding in March, so I may actually have to pay someone, but I’m looking at friends first.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      My BFF and I do that when we can. but it isn’t always feasible. It IS the best, though, when it works! I trust her, she trusts me, and we trade off. I wish we could do it more often and I recommend it highly.

    • Andrea

      I heard of people that have what they call babysitting co-ops. It’s like 3 or 4 families and they each take one night a month. It sounded good to me in theory, but in practice it means you have a bunch of kids at your house 3 out of 4 Sat nights. I’ll pass.

    • Alicia Kiner

      I would pass on that as well. Ours is more as it happens than scheduled, though. I don’t even know how to go about finding a babysitter outside of friends and family.

    • MellyG

      I think you’re probably lucky. I’m one of the few in my group of friends that is childless, and i might babysit once in awhile as a favor, but not on the regular! When i was little, i never had a babysitter, but I had grandma. I was the oldest among my cousins and my parent’s friends kids, so i was the default babysitter – all the adults would go out, i’d babysit….but even my aunts and uncles would give me a little money!

  • Stacey

    I used to get paid $3 an hour to babysit (usually multiple kids) back in the mid 90s. I was probably underpaid compared to other babysitters, but where are you going to get a job at 14 years old?

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      In NYC you can get a working permit to get minimum wage at McDonalds at 14. I don’t know how it went back in the mid 90s though.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      That was my going rate in my teens in small city Ontario, and it was the ’90s. $3 was crazy low… When I was 13 and I looked after the kids next door, it was fair. They were older, not toddlers or anything. But as I got older, it was a terrible rate. It went up to $5 when I was 16, but still.

  • Hannah Ransom

    I was paid $3/hr from like 1996-2000. I never made more than $5/hr. That was totally crappy then. I can’t imagine being paid $5/hr now.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I was paid $5 in 1996, I thought it was great, but even then it was average. I agree, $5 an hour now is inexcusable.

    • MellyG

      Me too – and i don’t think that was high either. i’m fairly certain that was just the going rate

    • Ddaisy

      When my sisters and I were kids (in the mid-90s), we never got our favourite baby-sitter because at $5 an hour, my parents said she was way too expensive and there were plenty out there for $3. (Then again, we loved the $3 baby-sitters too, so we weren’t too hard done by.) But that was the going rate. It wasn’t that long ago, so even $10 seems exorbitant to me now.

  • Eileen

    A babysitter who will work for $5 an hour is thirteen years old and can maybe be trusted to call 911 in an emergency. If that’s what you want, fine. That’s what I got in eighth grade when I played with the toddler across the street to keep her occupied so mom could make dinner, and it was fair. Once I was old enough to get a real job, though, there’s absolutely no way I would have given up my Saturday night for under ten.

    • Andrea

      I never could feel right about a teen sitter. For me, they had to be at least old enough to drive, and I much preferred college students. Which meant I just had to pay more. Which is fine.

    • Eileen

      Exactly. Like I said, it’s one thing if you’re home and want someone to keep your kids occupied so that you can get other stuff done. But if someone is going to take care of your kid for an evening while you’re out of the house, you want that someone with the sense and ability to drive your kid to the emergency room if necessary. I was a much better babysitter in college than in high school, and as such I wasn’t going to be underpaid. (Plus, I was no longer a people-pleasing freshman who thought that she should be grateful for being wanted)

    • Ddaisy

      I’m surprised. By the time I was 16 or 17, I still wanted to baby-sit, but I felt like I was too old for it. Everyone wanted to hire my 12-year old sister. I just always figured baby-sitters were supposed to be between 11-15, and I was some kind of weirdo has-been still hoping for jobs at 17. It never occurred to me that some parents might have thought an older sitter would be more valuable.
      Even when I got a car, the parents I sat for always came to pick me up. I was a very cautious and responsible driver, but even so, I would have never ever felt comfortable driving with the kids. I always figured bringing a car to a baby-sitting job was as much of a no-no as bringing a cell phone or a boyfriend.

    • MellyG

      I grew up the same way – babysat from about 11-15, then got a “real” job at he mall. It would have never occurred to me to babysit in college! And i babysat in the neighborhood, no need for a car. (And if there was an emergency, i was CPR trained plus knew enough neighbors in the area to call if something felt beyond my control)

      Also, i’m pretty sure that i was getting $25-$30 a night, so probably $5 an hour or a bit more, in 1991-1995, so that seems low now.

    • iamtheshoshie

      The Saturday night thing is a big one. When I was a grad student, there was a woman who kept asking me if I wanted to babysit on Saturday nights at the last minute and would be very surprised if I said no. But, the truth is, that even though I could have used the extra income, having the free time to hang out with friends turned out to be way more important to me than a few extra bucks in my pocket.

  • SarahJesness

    She’s making the assumption that the babysitter’s job is always going to be easy. Low rates like that might be fine when you can guarantee things will never go wrong, but with kids, that’s not really the case. I can’t imagine anyone other than a young teenager (you know, the kind of person who wants money but isn’t old enough for a traditional job yet, and can’t drive and probably doesn’t have friends who drive so it’s not like she can go out every weekend) would work for that little cash, so it’s kind of a “get what you pay for” scenario. If you want someone with experience, someone who is good at handling more difficult situations, you’d have to pay a bit more. What if the kids start fighting with each other? What if the movie doesn’t work and the babysitter has to find something else for the kids to do? What if the kid can’t, or won’t, go to sleep? What if the kids don’t want to watch the movie?

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    You are SO right. I saw this when it was put up, and commented something along the same lines and I was shocked at the number of people who replied calling me wrong. Minimum wage is the damn law, and it’s also more than fair. I pay my sitters at least $10 an hour, even if they are “just watching my sleeping kids” as the OP put it.
    *Edit* I also wanted to mention that I was paid $5 an hour in 1996 to babysit as a teenager. It was fair then, but certainly not now, 15 years later.

    • CW

      You know what else is the law? Taking out taxes. $5/hr “under the table” works out to more than minimum wage working on the books. Most sitters would prefer the cash.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      According to the law you’re obligated to pay minimum wage, and the sitter is obligated to report any and all income. Period. Why do people think they are above the law? I’ve been filing a tax return since I was a teenager. And if you make under a certain amount, you end up paying pretty much no taxes when you factor in a return every year. Are there people who disregard this stuff? Of course. Is it legally or morally right. Nope.

    • Imepaula

      You have to make a certain amount of money to have to take out taxes. $5/hr doesn’t for occasional babysitting probably doesn’t make it.

  • Btchesbecray

    When my husband was in the Army up til a few years ago, the going rate I got paid as an adult was usually I got to eat whatever I cooked from their house to feed their kid. And I didn’t have to get my own house messy, because I sat at theirs. Most would offer at most $20, if I showed up around 7pm and stayed until they came crawling in, in the am. When we moved to So Il, I thought it would be more on point. Wrong, this women offered me a nanny job where I would work from 8am until 6pm (she would be present for the first and last hours) for $5 an hour, to watch three kids under 5 and another one over kindergarten age after school was over. I would spend my own gas to take them to their appointments and pick the one up from school. I would cook them meals but get to eat with them and do light housework. A 10 hour day so $50 a day + the loss of gas to get their plus the loss of gas running her errands. I mean this just blew my mind. The interview went great, at the end I told her when she realized no one would take the job for less than $10 an hour, to give me a call.

  • KaeTay

    The last time I babysat I did it for free. The little boy was the best behaved 2 year old that I had ever met! He was my friend’s son. I’m the type that will babysit here and there for free if they are well behaved kids. Just bring juice and snacks with you.

    • AJD13

      I think doing a favor for someone or helping someone out who’s trying to get ahead and doesn’t have the money for daycare so they can go to school and better themselves or something like that is different than being employed as a babysitter, especially if it’s someone you don’t know that well and/or aren’t related to.

  • spinster cat lady

    This is way more common that you think. I look for babysitting/nanny jobs on care.com and people want someone for 5-10$ an hour with quite a list of expectations. Almost all of them want you to also have a car. No I will not watch your 3 year old twins for 10$ an hour…

  • Kheldarson

    Sure I’ll watch your kids for $5/hr…right after you pay my non-negotiable $25 for the first hour to watch 2 kids.

    She probably wonders why she doesn’t get consistent babysitters too.

  • Armchair Observer

    Eh, then there’s my (very well-off) aunt who would drop her kids off at a relative’s house for a month with maybe twenty bucks. I think, grand total, for the crazy amount of sitting I did for her youngest, I maybe made $50 total. Rich people, be crazy, yo. *not all of them of course, just my aunt and the $5/hr lady.

  • A-nony-mous

    I think you get what you pay for. If she wants to pay $5 we’ll see how far that $5 gets her when her child starts choking with her 12 or 13 year old caregiver or goes unconscious for no reason. My CPR course cost $200, I’d like that cost to be factored in. I think $15-$20/hour is fair.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    In 1999, I was paid $5 for two kids and one had diabetes. The other was going through some hard emotions over his parents’ divorce. $7 was the minimum wage back then. I never felt confident enough to ask for it.

    • AJD13

      And that is exactly why people like this take advantage of older kids/teens and try to pay them $5 an hour, because they know that kids don’t feel comfortable and are often afraid to negotiate pay with adults. I know I wasn’t back then and got taken advantage of by a couple people. I did finally get to the point though, especially since one of these kids was a holy terror, to ask for more or they could find another babysitter as what they were paying me wasn’t worth my time or giving up other things I would have enjoyed doing.

  • Ddaisy

    When I started baby-sitting, my only experience making money was sitting at a lemonade stand. We lived on a quiet cul-de-sac, so we were lucky to make 25 cents an hour doing that. I’d never heard of this minimum wage thing, so I thought $3 an hour to baby-sit was a huge raise, and I felt uncomfortable accepting it.

  • Natasha B

    I made more than that in the 90′s! I used to consistently babysit for a few families from our church, both had 4 kids, from babies to 5/6yo. A few other families had 2. I did overnights for one of the families frequently (they would party hardy until 2am, then we’d all go to church in the am and I’d go home with my parents) and I’d make $150/200 easy. The parents paid me well because I was reliable, and the kids loved me. We’re the same with our sitters-if the kids get excited about them coming, they’re reliable, we’ll pay. You’re trusting you children with someone!!! You need to pay them well!!!!

  • Smishsmash

    Well, she’s not wrong. I mean economic desperation IS what spurred on great inventions like the guillotine.

  • AJD13

    We pay our oldest daughter $10 an hour to watch her younger brother and sister if we have to both leave the house and we’re a one income household so it’s not like we’re rolling in money. I could see $5 per child per hour perhaps, but not $5 for 2 children. You are paying someone, no matter what their age is and no matter what they’d be doing at home, to keep your children SAFE…to take care of what should be the people most precious to you in the world. If that’s only worth $5 an hour to you, you have your priorities screwed up.

    • Carolina

      I routinely watched my siblings, but my parents would have cracked up and $10/hour. It was called “being part of the family” much like cleaning my room. I got a little extra for it, but not much.

  • C.J.

    Where I live $5 an hour is the going rate for a teenage babysitter. It was $2 an hour in the late 80′s, early 90′s when I used to babysit. Five years ago when my kids went to an in home day care when I still worked and she only charged $25 a day. The daycare centres charged $30 a day at that time. I live in an area of Ontario with a very low cost of living. People move here when they retire because they can sell their houses and come here and buy the exact same house for a quarter of the price, Most people here consider a $20 an hour job a decent wage for an adult unless they work for the big 3. Nobody would expect $20 an hour for a babysitting job here, if they did no one would hire them. There are very few jobs for teenagers here any more. So many people lost their jobs through the recession that the adults are taking the part time minimum wage jobs that the teenagers used to be able to get. Kids are happy to have the $5 an hour babysitting jobs. The only people that I know who pay more are people with 4 kids. The teenager that babysat for us occasionally told his mother he thought we paid him too much because we always gave him a little extra. He always did a very good job, the kids loved him and he always made sure to clean up whatever messes they made. It depends where you live. I’m sure in bigger cities like Toronto it is more.

  • Carolina

    When I was sitting in the late 80s/early 90s, I made $1-$2 per hour. I was CPR/first aid certified. $5/hour now doesn’t strike me as bad for a teenager (especially one who is too young to work another job). I pay my nanny $15/hour plus time and a half, but that’s her full-time job. There’s no way I’m paying my 12 year old neighbor that. My colleg-age cousin doesn’t ask for more than minimum wage for sitting.

  • Kande

    I don’t understand the issue. She is not forcing people to babysit her kids – she is saying what she will pay for someone to babysit her kids. Unless she is tricking them by hiring them and then at the END of the night saying “Oh by the way, I only pay $5 per hour”, the implication is that she hires people who are willing to be paid $5 per hour. If the potential sitter wants more they either successfully negotiate more or they decline the job. If her prices are too low, natural consequence is she will never get a sitter – problem, I consider you solved!

    For those who are really upset about the less than minimum wage idea – if you leave your child in daycare for ten hours a day (which is not unreasonable, 8 hour workday plus 1 hour commute each way) does that mean you are paying a minimum of $80 per DAY for ONE CHILD? As that is $8 per hour for ten hours. If you pay what is typical,which is $40-45 per day for baby/toddler … then how do you justify your evening teen sitter being worth more (actually double!) your regular daycare provider?

    I always had a minimum rate for first hour, a set lower hourly after that, and a maximum night rate that capped at the daily amount I paid for regular daycare. Have had zero trouble getting sitters we loved who clearly loved kids.

    • Kande

      by minimum rate for first hour I meant higher amount for first hour then dropped a bit for remainder, so that small jobs of 30 min to 2 hours are worth their while but so I can afford them as well. I also freely paid bonuses for things such as unexpected illness, if my kids had been acting up (rare, but if the sitter said they were misbehaving I believed them and paid more. Was never taken advantage of)

  • Jessica

    I guess the thing that bothered me the most, is the lack of respect for the sitters time. Even if the kid is “just sleeping” your sitter is still sitting at your house with nothing to do instead of anything they would typically be doing, especially on the weekends. Even though I wasn’t the most social person as a teenager, the time after the kid went to bed, before parents came home was really not fun. I knew I was missing out on time with my friends & the only thing that really made it worth it was earning money to do fun stuff with them later.
    My mom talked a lot about time being valuable & insisting people value your time. But as a teenager, I was totally intimidated by adults & would have had a very hard time mustering up the courage to “negotiate” anything.
    My mom also suggested doing light housekeeping without being asked to get more consistent jobs. Like while doing the dinner dishes, wash the other dishes in the sink. Or help the kid pick up their room. Just a little something extra went a long way proving your worth as a sitter for the things the parents don’t see (like how well you entertained the kids) with something they will notice when they get home.

  • Cindy M

    I have a cat, so I’m outta here… ;-) However: I was a babysitter in my teens (1980s). At the time, $2/hour was considered “good.” No, not when a child goes on an hour-long screaming/crying fit because older brother “got to go with the adults” and he didn’t. Plus, I had my period and cramps. Yeah, that was a real fun evening! Not.

  • John Bing

    That’s really silly to do, babysitting is good, but sometimes it can be dangerous. what if something happens to your child.

  • iamtheshoshie

    Geez…when I was a teenage babysitter in the Chicago suburbs, my going rate was $11 for one child, plus $5 for each additional child. This was 10 years ago.

  • March

    If I were to apply as a babysitter there, one of the first things I’d ask is “what do YOU do with your kids of an evening when you’re at home?” and make her list every. single. little. bloody. thing. Maybe then she’d realise a few things about what babysitting actually involves.

  • Janok Place

    We are incredibly spoiled by fantastic neighbors who have become quasi-grandparents and take our daughter at the drop of a hat, on a moments notice, day or night. When they found our we are expecting #2 we were instantly drilled on the plans for DD while in hospital. It’s her second home and I’d rather leave her where she’s comfortable and has routine then with real grandparents with whom she is unfamiliar (and for various individual reasons like to completely change my routine/rules based on their own opinions)

    That being said, there is not anything we would not do for these wonderful people in return. If their assistance required monetary compensation we would gladly give them all that we could afford and more. I’m not asking a baby sitter to simply let my dog out to pee and toss some kibble in his dish. I’m asking them to take responsibility for the safety, well being and over all happiness of my child. My step sister baby sat for us on our wedding, bailed when I finally had a chance to have a drink when she was supposed to spend the night, and I still paid her $200.

  • Lindsey Sweet

    I don’t know where you lived in 1989, but I sure as heck wasn’t getting $5 for one kid then! I was happy with whatever the parents paid me at the end of the night, because seriously, it wasn’t that hard what I was doing. I fed the kids, tucked them in, then sat on the phone with my friends and watched TV.

  • Rachel Sea

    I got $10 an hour in the ’90s, with an additional $2 per hour, per extra kid. $5 an hour is a slap in the face, for that rate they’re lucky if the sitter doesn’t nick the silver.

  • Cneg

    I’m a college student and I get paid $10 per kid per hour. I think its fair especially when they’re toddlers. I’ve seen many tantrums and down right bratty behavior so if I’m going to spend my night with your kids it’s going to be worth my time.

  • Amanda D

    I was paid $5.00 an hour to babysit two kids all the way up to 2006 and would probably be fine with $5 an hour now at 28 because I have a full time job and that would just be a little extra money in my pocket. You pay a babysitter what you can afford, just because some people will pay even $10 an hour, doesn’t mean you should feel obligated to match what those other people pay. Now I am not saying anybody should go any lower than $5 an hour, cause that is ridiculous, but maybe people should be grateful for what they get and if they don’t want to work for $5 an hour they can always tell the parents no.

  • Darcy

    Paying 5 dollars an hour for babysitting 2 kids is crazy. Especially with these justifications. When I watch kids I usually just go with a flat rate at the end of the night, and I have been fortunate enough to have good parents to work for,. I had a women who would pay me 5 dollars an hour to watch her 3 kids for 8 hours. As time went on she thought I wasn’t doing enough (her oldest 2 boys were horrible and would beat each other during the day) and would have me clean her house. Needless to say I don’t watch those kids anymore, but I have also learned not to accept crappy payment more than once. I bet she has a very difficult time keeping a regular babysitter. I don’t spend my nights watching kids movies and feeding people premade dinner, and I wouldn’t do it for 5 dollars an hour either. I think 20 an hour is a little much, but 5 is insane.

  • Lauren

    I’m sorry, I think $15-$20 an hour for a babysitter is ridiculous! I’ve had “real” jobs that didn’t even pay that much! When I babysat, I watched a 3 and a 5 year old and charged $5/hr. Granted that was 15 years ago, but I think the most I’d pay a sitter now for two kids is $10, tops.

  • Grace

    As a babysitter myself, I also think $5 is ridiculous. I babysat a family when I was 14 who wanted me at their house at 5:30 a.m (once or twice a week) and told me they would be back “Sometime after 2 pm”, so I was usually there for around 9 hours. They talked about how easy the kids were, but these kids turned into terrors once the parents left in the mornings, and no matter what, they wouldn’t calm down during the day. They weren’t allowed to watch ANY tv, so I had to actively watch and play with them for the entire time I was there. I had to cook 2 full meals and snacks in between, break up fights ALL DAY, give timeouts, turn off the tv around 50 times a day when they tried to watch it, and clean up the ENTIRE house before the parents got home, or they would tell me I didn’t ‘preform’ as well today and lower my pay. To do all this for 9 hours straight, how much would they pay me? $40. Some people might say that’s a good amount for one day, being ‘just a babysitter’, but that’s only around $4 per hour. Somehow I lasted almost a year before I quit. It’s been about a year since I quit and they still ask me to babysit, and for some reason they’re shocked and mad when I tell them no.